All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

200

Keith Pray's Big Soul Ensemble: Live at the Lark Tavern

By

Sign in to view read count
Live recording can be a mixed blessing. On a live album, an artist has an opportunity to capture the raw energy created in performance before an audience. When the band is cooking and the audience is whooping it up, it is clear that while music is made in rehearsal halls and recording studios, it lives onstage. On the other hand, recording live presents its own unique set of challenges. Getting the best possible sound in the controlled environment of the studio is one thing. Getting it in a room not designed for optimum acoustics and filled with noisy patrons is another thing altogether. And, of course, every song is a first take. A bad night on the bandstand could turn into a wasted evening of recording as well.

When it works, however, the results can be spectacular, as in the case of Live at the Lark Tavern by Keith Pray's Big Soul Ensemble, an album which perfectly captures the group in the act of blowing the roof off this intimate upstate venue.

The album starts off with a high-energy performance of pianist Joe Gullace's composition "Elements," a churning exercise in group chemistry. The brasses and reeds exchange phrases over a tight rhythm section which features the composer herself on piano. Keith Pray's energetic alto solo keeps things moving, while tenor saxophonist Brian Patneaude and trumpeter Chambers, Herbert & Ellis - vocalists each contribute concise but passionate solos. The whole thing pulses with power before coming to a stunning close.

"Walkin' the Dog" is not the Rufus Thomas novelty hit, but rather a Basie-esque mid-tempo shuffle that opens with a walking bass performed with élan by Lou Smaldone and tasteful piano interjections from Dave Gleason. "Walkin' the Dog" also features a wonderfully laid-back solo from tenor saxophonist Lee Russo.

One of the album's many highlights is "Renee," a gorgeous composition by Kevin Tkacz which features some incredible ensemble work from the brasses and reeds, as well as exceptional solos from Russo, Gleason and Smaldone. Pray's composition "The Other Funk" begins with a mournful brass section playing what sounds like a quote from either Dire Straits or the Police before launching into a tasty medium- tempo groove that owes more than a little to Fred Wesley and the J.B.s.

The album's closer, a brisk take on saxophonist Patneaude's "Change," features an outstanding solo by the song's composer, as well as a lyrical flugelhorn solo by Lambert.

The recording is not perfect. At times, the brasses seem a little low in the mix, almost as though the group were playing around a single mic stand (which is clearly not the case, as the piano and bass are very well miked). This doesn't detract from the listening experience, however. Instead, it helps create a sense of space, as though sitting at a table near the bandstand.

Alto saxophonist Keith Pray has been appearing with this group at Tess's Lark Tavern in Albany, N.Y., on the first Tuesday of each month for some time now, and he has gathered the absolute cream of upstate New York's jazz talent for this endeavor. For those who haven't been to see them live, this album is a perfect opportunity to hear the band. For those who make the monthly pilgrimage, this album is a perfect souvenir. Either way, this is some good stuff.


Track Listing: Elements; Walkin' the Dog; Transconfiguration; Renee; The Other Funk; I Remember Roland; Yet to Come; The Gate ( A Portrait of the Mohawk); Change.

Personnel: Keith Pray: alto sax, soprano sax; Dave Fisk: also sax; Katie Pray: alto sax (3, 4, 7); Brian Patneaude: tenor sax; Lee Russo: tenor sax; Scott Hall: baritone sax; Scott Thompson: trumpet; Terry Gordon: trumpet; Sam Ponder: trumpet; Steve Lambert: trumpet; Dylan Canterbury: trumpet; Rick Rosoff: trombone; Ken Olsen: trombone; Brian Kaplan: trombone; Adam Streeter: tuba; Dave Gleason; piano; Yuko Kishimoto piano (1); Lou Smaldone: bass; Bob Halek: drums.

Title: Live at the Lark Tavern | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Confluence

Confluence

ARC - Artists Recording Collective
2012

buy
Live at the Lark Tavern

Live at the Lark...

Self Produced
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Lifelike CD/LP/Track Review
Lifelike
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Whatever Possessed Me CD/LP/Track Review
Whatever Possessed Me
by Don Phipps
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live At The Fillmore East 1968 CD/LP/Track Review
Live At The Fillmore East 1968
by Doug Collette
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "Contra la indecision" CD/LP/Track Review Contra la indecision
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Najwa" CD/LP/Track Review Najwa
by John Sharpe
Published: November 29, 2017
Read "Slade Alive!" CD/LP/Track Review Slade Alive!
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Small Town" CD/LP/Track Review Small Town
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Transatlantic" CD/LP/Track Review Transatlantic
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 22, 2018
Read "Live At The Cota Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Cota Jazz Festival
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 11, 2017